Chapter

George Herbert: God-Oriented Self-Consciousness; Richard Crashaw: The Surrender of the Self

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780198117384
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670923 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117384.003.0003
George Herbert: God-Oriented Self-Consciousness; Richard Crashaw: The Surrender of the Self

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Joseph Summers commented that the primary purpose of George Herbert's poem was not what we understand by ‘self-expression’. Herbert's poetry is talk; and God, silent or speaking, is the poet's constant interlocutor. In his religious poetry, the true centre of interest is still the poet's self. This intercourse with God is the reason why self-consciousness is not so apparent or constant in The Temple as in John Donne's poems. His self-consciousness allowed Herbert to exercise control over his emotions, but unlike Donne, Herbert was less concerned with himself and self-definition. In the case of Richard Crashaw, ecstatic piety aims at self-annihilation. Lyrical, intensely emotional, his poetry nevertheless proves mainly impersonal. He is lost in the contemplation of some outer object: Christ, the Virgin, or a Saint. Whereas the inner presence of God in the soul invited Herbert's self-questionings, Crashaw's faith and imagination are centrifugal. The fundamental feature of Crashaw's inspiration is the ambivalence of pleasure and pain and a wish for death.

Keywords: George Herbert; Richard Crashaw; self; self-consciousness; poetry; God; faith; imagination; pleasure; pain

Chapter.  5878 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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